You have no idea how to really interview candidates

Kris Dunn wants to waterboard candidates and as a mutual fan of 24, I say it's high time we Jack Bauer potential employees (you'll notice my Jack Bauer facts on the right side of my RBC page).

I just don't call it asking for negative information as Kris puts it; what he's referring to is interviewing the way it's supposed to be done and it has become a lost art/science in recruiting. Yet when someone blows up in the workplace, by which I mean makes decisions that come as a surprise and have a far reaching negative impact, our tendency is to solely point an accusatory finger and the culprit or their boss (or in the case of Bank of America, their CEO and Chairman, Rick Lewis).

I say we should also look at the recruiters; most simply do not conduct interviews that sufficiently drilled down to bedrock (and for fairness - and reality - I also include all those in the process). Questions are asked but how often how have you heard a recruiter claim that they felt that the person was perfect ten minutes into the interview?


We need more data than the feelings of a recruiter - or the feelings of others in the process - to make an informed decision. But to put it as Kris did with his obvious humorous intent, doesn't help our profession. Here's an article from a technology site with many eye opening comments (48 at the time of this post). Consider these:

The original article is what you'd expect from someone who takes their interview questions from a book and then expresses shock when interviewees read books that explain how to answer those questions.

Sometimes HR has PMS and your best bet is to just try to get through the interview as quick as possible. You are in a no win situation here.

The only reason companies still stage interviews is so HR personnel won't feel like the waste of oxygen they are.

I truly believe most of the questions you've mentioned are combative and have no place in hiring. Since we all have some negative aspects to our career growth, gaining information about situations is necessary but we do not need to undermine the candidate to do so.

That style of interviewing holds no ground in today's modern society. It might of been o.k. in the frenzy days of the 80's or 90's, but not today where realisation has ensured decency is primary.

Some of the questions in your article are harsh. I would walk out of any interview where the interviewer took such an aggressive stance and I would contact the CEO to tell him/her how their company is being represented by the interviewer. You don't have to take crap from interviewers just because you are looking for work.

Not all were negative but more or less focused on the purpose of a challenging interview:

Interviews are supposed to be a challenge; how else do you select the best candidate?

Five minutes of a modestly uncomfortable situation may preclude months or years of aggravation, disappointment, frustration, stress, and sleep-deprived nights.

While most of the comments (again from IT folks) were expected, one particular comment caused me to snicker and chortle:

I'd go one step further and encourage the candidate to ask:

How long has this position been open and what's the turn-over rate at your company?

How would you describe the current financial condition of your company?

Do you (HR person) have any actual experience in the IT field, if so, describe.

Why do you feel I need to come back "X" number of times before you make a decision?

If I take this job, what can I expect in terms of stability and longevity with your company? What's the average tenure of your employees?

What would you do if the candidate interviewed you like this?

Jack Bauer indeed...

Views: 41

Comment by Ragan Kellams on May 1, 2009 at 12:09pm
Hey Jack, your link is broken. FIX IT NOW! ;)-
Comment by Steve Levy on May 1, 2009 at 3:41pm
Dammit Rayanne and Ragan, you probably don’t think I could force a towel down a candidate's throat, but trust me I can. All the way. Except that I’d hold onto this little bit at the end. Then I'd ask them a question about an accomplishment on their resume and let them answer it. The problem is that soon, their stomach starts to digest the towel; if I don't like the answer, I pull the towel out taking their stomach lining with it. Most people probably take about a week to die. It’s very painful.
Comment by Ragan Kellams on May 1, 2009 at 4:02pm
Haha! We don't doubt you Jack. We know you are a badass.

A lot of the comments on the above referenced post sound like a bunch of sniveling underachievers that dont want to get called on the carpet or better yet, Nick Burns Your Company's Computer Guy:

One of our sr. managers here at IQ is actually one of the hardest interviewers I have ever seen - we call it "throwing down the gauntlet." If they make it past that, they're usually in like Flynn.
Comment by Steve Levy on May 1, 2009 at 4:06pm
Not underachievers Ragan, just people who have as a collective function come to question HR and recruiting. With 25 years combined engineering and recruiting, I've met many techs who are good interviewers but far, far more who still ask questions the way in which they probably asked a girl to the senior prom.


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